It Takes Five To Tango


Posted by in July's Magazine

Neu! Reekie! has fast become Scotland’s most popular mixed arts circus and is increasingly being seen as a key piece of mother Caledonia’s cultural puzzle. They’ve now morphed into a record label and publishing house and are ready to grapple with the pop charts. The launch pad, a double A sided single, surfaces on 28th July. One track has been curated by each of the Neu! Reekie! co-founders, Michael Pedersen’s contribution is The Caterpillar Tango by the – so new they don’t even have a facebook page yet – Jesus, Baby!. The other track, A Room Darkened, comes courtesy of the redoubtable Kevin Williamson and Producer Bob (hopefully no relation to Sideshow Bob).

Michael on his half of the undertaking
The Caterpillar Tango started as a response to the musical endeavours of Mr Bréon George Rydell, the whimsical captain of Dream Tower Inn – a philosophical, anthropological, cosmological, theatre/film-making, free-thinking movement soon to ignite elation amongst thousands of enchanted listeners.

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So…I wanted to write a song that would lend itself to both motion picture and the stage. The intention was to sculpt something that shunned the notion of a zeitgeist, rather it would be intergalactic, parallel universal, ‘floating off into the infinities of space’ inspired. A song that Tim Burton could mirthfully butter his toast to, yet esoteric enough to light a fuse with Bobby D, and with a spiritual sheen, so that Daniel Johnston might also dig it out of a shoebox after Sunday mass. With the assistance of a powerhouse of Scotland’s musical maestros, the generous support of the fine people at Creative Scotland, and some deft Liverpudlian craftsmanship, it’s now ready to hatch.

The song was, in the most part, written in the early stages of November 2011. But it wasn’t until Davy Henderson and his Sexual Objects unshackled their velvety, labyrinthine, feather-white acoustic set at Neu! Reekie! that I felt ready to finish it. Davy’s voice had such a unique cadence to it, at times undulating in and out of a whisper – it was kaleidoscopic and hypnotic at the same time. Rapt by this, the song reached an early lexical peak but with the words ringing out in Davy’s timbre, not mine own. From then on, The Caterpillar Tango was written with Davy Henderson’s choice brand of crooning in mind. It was as good as sung, I just hadn’t asked him yet! With the help and vocal chords of TeenCanteen’s sassy front lass Carla Easton we screeched out a DIY recording and sent it in Henderson’s direction. It met with an affirmative response – Mr H was willing to wield the microphone for us (the first time he’d have ever fully sung and released another pip’s song).

A drunken rendition of The Caterpillar Tango was delivered into the ear of Roy Moller – my multi-time collaborator – on the way to my favoured watering hole The Windsor Buffet, ensuring that he too, was on board. And then there was just one final knight to induct.

I’d seen Marco Rea perform with Roy and word of his sublime skills as a recordist and producer had stretched from the east coast to the west. With Stevie Jackson (Belle & Sebastian) and Stuart Kidd (The Wellgreen) in tow, we all ventured down to Manchester for a BBC 6 radio session, it was a colourful jaunt and from that point onward Marco was on my fraternal radar. So, with a little pluck from myself and Roy, and an early version of the song, we lassoed his services and the troupe was complete.

Some Velvet Morning
Several rehearsals, some months, and a two-day recording session – in Marco’s bucolic arable chic Barne Studio – later, we had birthed a rough studio mix.

To this we added a late sprinkling of Some Velvet Morning by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, with a spree of Spector-esque sparks courtesy of The Ronettes and, finally, a Lou Reed skirmish or two. Only then did the studio mix hit the finish line and find itself parceled and ready to journey down to Liverpool where it was picked up by one Bill Ryder Jones – former lead guitarist of The Coral and current solo artist with Domino Records. Bill mixed and mastered the track with righteous vim and gallantry, putting his own unique stamp on it and returning unto us the bravely iced sugary treat we offer up to you today.

That’s not to say there weren’t a few tense moments when talk of tempos unveiled a speeded-up section that shook the ship a little (me busy trying to abstract the pressure with words like celestial and elegiac). But paring back the percussion to an assortment of wooden trinkets and a 60s Yamaha drum returned us to the melodic yolk of the song. Toast at the ready, we dipped in…

So there we have it, The Caterpillar Tango by Jesus, Baby!. One half of the aforementioned double A-sided single that’s going to launch Neu! Reekie! Records – a label looking to shepherd intelligent pop and spoken word to the centre of your stage and soon, we hope, to be one of the most pulsing and peculiar presences on the UK music scene.

Being the multi-media aficionados we are, these products are to be as much of a reaction to the work as a representation of it. So our first release will bear the emblem of Kevin Harman, notorious rabble-rouser of the arts scene, and the honeyed hands of South African artist Jonathan Freemantle – who’s directing and producing the official video. And, hey, just wait to see who we’ve got doing the cover!

The single will be treble launched on the 27th and 28th of July with two shows in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow (more below). It’ll be available for extensive online harvesting from the 1st of August, and a limited run of dexterously designed vinyl will swiftly follow. A world premiere of the track is previewing even as I write this, on Marc Riley’s BBC Radio 6 show. Which, my dears, will be the first of many airplays over the next few months.

The Main Protagonists…
Note: these biographies were a kool 1,000 words plus before I cut them mercilessly down to size for fear of The Leither editor’s AXE! Editor’s note – personally I would only have cut that ‘kool’.

Davy Henderson: frontman of The Sexual Objects; formally of Win, The Fire Engines, and Nectarine No. 9, some say Scotland’s answer to David Bowie!

Marco Rea: currently of The Wellgreen and The Store Keys, formerly of The Marbles, Rainbow Family, The DT6 etc.

Roy Moller: of Roy Moller Inc and The Store Keys also a known Belle & Sebastian collaborator.

Carla Easton: singer and keyboard player with TeenCanteen (worthy of your undiluted attention – editor), formally of Futuristic Retro Champions, has a song covered by BMX Bandits on their next album.

Bill Ryder Jones: founding member & ex-lead guitarist of The Coral, currently recording with Domino Records (first album If is superb) and doing film scores plus the odd mini opera.

Michael Pedersen: poet, playwright, pontificator, Leither scribe.

This already in…

“The Caterpillar Tango is as lush – as I believe the young folks would have it – as anything currently out there. An indie supergroup with Davy Henderson crooning like I’ve never heard before – MORE please.”
Ronnie Gurr, music guru

“It’s funny how certain city’s scenes glom onto disparate influences, combine them, and reveal new ways to charm. Jesus, Baby! mine the fertile fields of The Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen and even a touch of Aztec Camera to produce a thoroughly magical hybrid all their own.”
Lach, founder of the Antifolk Movement.

“Davy Henderson. Legend. Singing a total curveball. Like some lost Moe Tucker classic.”
Dan Willson, Withered Hand

“The Caterpillar Tango is my song of 2012.”
Duglas T. Stewart, singer of BMX Bandits

“A low-slung joy to treasure.”
Neil Cooper, freelance critic

“A gentle unassuming song with hints of Ivor Cutler and Maureen Tucker that brings out the dulcet in Davy Henderson.”
Vic Goddard, post-punk powerhouse

That treble launch thingy…

Neu! Reekie! Records Unveiled
Friday 27th July, 19:00 – 22:00
Scottish Book Trust,
Trunk’s Close, Edinburgh

Neu! Reekie! Records
Edinburgh Launch
Saturday 28th July, 14:00 – 15:00
Avalanche Records,
5 Grassmarket

Neu! Reekie! Records
Glasgow Launch
Saturday 28th July, 19:30 – 22:30
Mono, 12 King’s Court

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